Winner: Texas and Oklahoma
Sure, Texas and Oklahoma will face more difficult schedules. It will be harder for Texas to be “back”, while Oklahoma might lose to an SEC team before getting into the College Football Playoff.
But getting into the top college football conference helps elevate both programs. It also promises to make them a good bit more money.
As for the onfield impact, playing in the SEC should give the two schools a slight bump in recruiting. The two schools can now pitch recruits on playing in the best conference in the country. That should also eat into a major advantage Texas A&M has within the conference while recruiting the state of Texas.
We’ll have to see when the two schools ultimately join the conference, and how much it will cost them, but Friday was a good day for the two programs.
Loser: The Big 12
The SEC’s gain is the Big 12′s clear loss. The conference lost its top two programs and even worse, didn’t seem to know it was happening.
Now the league is trying to keep Texas and Oklahoma through the remainder of its rights deal while also fending off other conferences like the American Athletic Conference from poaching the remaining teams.
Now though that the SEC has added Oklahoma and Texas, the charge for an expanded playoff may be slowed.
As it currently stands, the SEC’s two new additions are set to join the league at the start of the 2025 season. That year is also the final year of the current College Football Playoff contract.
Given the SEC’s deft maneuvering to add the two schools, other conferences may try and disincentivize the conference from bringing Texas and Oklahoma into the fold any sooner then it can. There’s also the financial aspect of waiting for the current College Football Playoff media contract to expire so that the sport of college football can negotiate the best contract possible. For example, imagine a system like the NFL playoffs, where there are multiple broadcast partners as opposed to just ESPN in the current set-up.
Having a 16-team league is great if you’re competing in a 12-team playoff system. But if you add Texas and Oklahoma to the mix of a four-team playoff, it does likely hurt the rest of the league’s chances of getting into the playoff.
What if the teams — Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M have all shown they can be legitimate playoff contenders in the league — all beat up on each other? Yes, the winner of the SEC would still probably get in but the chances of squeezing a second-team in would likely decrease.
There was real excitement when it seemed like Sankey and the SEC were spearheading an expanded College Football Playoff. Now, there isn’t quite the same enthusiasm from the rest of the higher-ups in the sport to see it happen.
Winner: SEC scheduling
The league now has an opportunity to address some of its scheduling concerns and make the conference feel more like an actual conference.
The most obvious flaw in the league scheduling setup is demonstrated by Texas A&M and Georgia. The former joined the league in 2012. The latter won’t visit until the 2024 season.
The current schedule has teams playing six division opponents, one permanent crossover opponent and then a rotation of the other six teams in the league.
Adding Texas and Oklahoma presents an opportunity for the SEC to adjust its outdated model. There are a number of options, whether it be two eight-team divisions, four pods of four or the league giving each team three permanent foes and rotating around the rest.
Another big decision will be whether the league goes to a nine-game schedule. To accommodate seeing every team in the league in a more reasonable window, a nine-game schedule would likely need to happen.
With Texas and Oklahoma joining the league, the SEC has a chance to put on the best games in the sport every single week. But it has to fix its current scheduling model to do so.
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